Govt may give URA more cash to build cheap flats - RTHK
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Govt may give URA more cash to build cheap flats

2019-10-26 HKT 13:22
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  • Govt may give URA more cash to build cheap flats
Transport and Housing Secretary Frank Chan says the government will discuss whether the Urban Renewal Authority needs more funding to carry out its new mission of building affordable homes.

The URA has been self-financing since an initial HK$10 billion government cash injection on its creation in 2001, but Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in her policy address this month that the authority would be tasked with delivering affordable flats that may not prove as profitable as its previous schemes.

"Because of the direction for the URA to perform duties such as starter homes and also transitional housing we anticipate there might be financial pressure due upon the URA," Chan said on Saturday.

"And the Chief Executive has made it very clear that if there's a need the government will duly consider supporting the URA. It all depends on circumstance because as of now the financial health of the URA is still very positive, I would say."

The URA's annual report for 2018 showed that it had an accumulated surplus of more than HK$34 billion. The body has focused on large-scale redevelopment in the past and has often been criticised for building high-end homes and luxury shops in what had been working class areas.

Earlier this year, it rolled out its pilot starter home scheme in Hong Kong. Dubbed "eResidence", the project in Hung Hom offered flats for between HK$3.15 million and HK$6.6 million to buyers who met certain income and savings limits.

The scheme was heavily oversubscribed, and the government has encouraged the URA to build more such developments, as well as other types of subsidised housing. That includes transitional housing, which is short-term housing for people waiting for public rental flats.